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Facebook’s Contractors Say the Company Is Risking Their Lives To Turn A Pandemic Profit

Illustration for article titled Facebooks Contractors Say the Company Is Risking Their Lives To Turn A Pandemic Profit

Picture: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / Contributor (Getty Photos)

In Could of 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic absolutely underway, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the corporate would enable most of its workers to proceed working from dwelling till not less than the tip of the yr in an effort to “comprise the unfold of Covid-19 so we are able to hold our communities secure and get again up and working once more quickly.”

However that very same luxurious was apparently not prolonged to the thousands-strong fleet of contract staff Fb employs to average dangerous content material on the platform, and on Wednesday, 200 of these staff despatched an open letter to high executives on the firm objecting to the way in which they’ve been handled.

Addressed to Zuckerberg and Fb chief working officer Sheryl Sandberg, in addition to the CEOs of outsourcing corporations Accenture and Covalen, the letter accuses Fb of compromising the well being and security of its contractors and their family members so as to take care of Fb’s income in the course of the pandemic.”

After months of permitting content material moderators to work at home, confronted with intense stress to maintain Fb freed from hate and disinformation, you may have pressured us again to the workplace,” the letter reads.Moderators who safe a docs’ notice a couple of private COVID threat have been excused from attending in particular person. Moderators with susceptible kinfolk, who would possibly die have been they to contract COVID from us, haven’t.”

As it’s, there have already been COVID outbreaks in a number of of Facebook’s offices, with staff in Eire, Germany, Poland and america testing optimistic for the virus.

And in response to the letter-writers, the specter of an infection comes on high of an already psychologically punishing workload—one which led Fb to pay out some $52 million to US-based contractors final spring for trauma they endured on the job:

Earlier than the pandemic, content material moderation was simply Fb’s most brutal job. We waded via violence and little one abuse for hours on finish. Moderators engaged on little one abuse content material had targets elevated in the course of the pandemic, with no further help.

Now, on high of labor that’s psychologically poisonous, holding onto the job means strolling right into a scorching zone. In a number of workplaces, a number of COVID instances have occurred on the ground. Staff have requested Fb management, and the management of your outsourcing corporations like Accenture and CPL, to take pressing steps to guard us and worth our work. You refused. We’re publishing this letter as a result of we’re left with no alternative. 

Together with the power to work at home, the letter’s signatories additionally record quite a lot of different calls for, together with an choice to obtain hazard pay and a name to finish outsourcing and produce the content material moderators in-house in order that they will obtain healthcare and different advantages.

The letter prompted a response from Fb, with the corporate fast to argue that nearly all of the 15,000 content material reviewers it employs have continued to work at home in the course of the pandemic and reiterating that it does make “well-being assets” out there to its staff.

“Whereas we consider in having an open inner dialogue, these discussions have to be trustworthy,” Fb spokesperson Toby Partlett advised the New York Occasions in a press release. “Fb has exceeded well being steerage on holding amenities secure for any in-office work.”

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Brianna Provenzano